Sunday, October 18, 2015


Commerce Presbyterian Church
October 18, 2015
NOTE 1: Students from UGA Presbyterian Student Center helped to lead worship.  Also, four skits demonstrating Jesus’ and our own creativity were featured as part of this sermon.
Note 2: References to Rex Jung are from his interview with Krista Tippet on the program, OnBeing.
Note 3: Accompanying Slides for the worship service and sermon.

Mark select examples of Jesus’ creativity

Today we are talking about creativity.

Create -
Creation -
Creative -
Creativity -

A few questions;

What does it mean to create?
What does it mean to be creative?

Think about those Picassos you drew as a kid.
What thing have you made...what problem have you solved your most proud of?
Maybe it was just winning a hand of bridge recently, and that’s okay

Was God creative?
I find Psalm 104 particularly adept at capturing the creativity of God the Creator!
springs, valleys, mountains, the sea, birds and fish!  Creation is marvelous

The bible would suggest that human beings were commissioned to be co-creators with God!
Participating in this glorious work.

This suggests something about or capacity to be creative as human beings?

Sometimes I don’t feel very creative myself...not like so many others…
my wife who can come up with all kinds of crazy Halloween costumes, like the year she dressed me up as a used Q-tip!  

Or like my neighbor friend who grew up on a farm and is so handy and capable about doing any house project--and he says growing up on a farm there are always problems to solve and you have to work with what you have to fix them.  Kind of emasculating really...

How creative are we?  

Slide 2: Rex Jung
As we have been doing for the past few Sundays, our accompanying teacher this morning is Dr. Rex Jung of the university of New Mexico. He studies this amazing most complex organ we have in our bodies...the brain.

Slide Brain
And he says, yes, all of our brains are wired to be creative…

Ready for some brain terms.
He talks about the prefrontal cortex--where we do our thinking, our cognitive abilities...
We are exposed to and even crave so much information, which is why talk radio and 24 news and information at the click of a button has been so pervasive.  

But the thing about creativity, says Dr. Jung
is that we have a tremendous capacity for it…
we just have to allow time and space for our brains to move to creative processing

This creative processing takes place when our brains are in a hypofrontal state--
hypofrontal state ---
literally slowing of the brain’s prefrontal cortex--where we do our thinking, our cognitive abilities...
To enter the zone of creativity….

Dr. Jung can see this happen in brains he studies.
He can watch the brain calm its powerful organizing frontal lobes and become more meandering, less directed, in order to make creative connections.

Our brains are ready for doing cognitive work--studying, learning, gathering information--but he’s fascinated with creativity, when we allow for the freer interplay of different networks in the brain;

it’s like being on a road trip but instead of taking the express way to get there as fast as possible, taking country roads, even dirt roads, the scenic route to get there…
it allows time to put ideas together.

Dr. Jung talks about children learning in school, how it’s important obviously that they are taught math, science, history, literature, but, that recess may be the most important class of the day, because it allows the shift to take place in the brain, where the brain can slow down and make connections, and come up with creative ways to think about what they are learning.
there's the knowledge acquisition portion and then there's the place where you have to let the ideas flow.

Putting up with boring children can be a challenge as a parent, but Dr. Jung says,
When children, or even adults are actually bored, it may be a really good way to exercise creativity--get into to the hypofrontal state-- getting into the zone--triggering or tapping into the place in your brain where creativity comes to life!

We can get into the zone in any number of ways--a hot bath, doing yoga, going for an evening walk or a morning jog, meditation is great…

Creativity is linked to stillness...
Notice the pattern of creation in the book of Genesis--God created, and then rested, created, and then rested...

Inventor Thomas Edison is known to have taken naps with a steel ball bearing in each hand...trying to get to a place of near sleep and stillness without actually falling asleep..and if he fell asleep the ball would drop into a metal pan and wake him up…
he was getting into the zone..where he was at his most creative state...

One of my teachers, Philip Newell, you may remember from the spring, is lifting up a stream of Celtic spirituality, in which there is an emphasis on creativity as part of the essence of who we are as humans.
When we are creative, it’s when we feel most alive

And maybe that is part of what Jesus came to show us….
the essence of who we are as humans, creative beings,
Co creators with God.

Because, if you think about Jesus...he was a pretty creative guy, really.
Slide Jesus linger here humor

Think about his teachings, his miracles…
We’ll rather than think about it...let’s check some out...some traditional ways to tell these stories, and some more contemporary ways to get at the creativity of Jesus….

First...Jesus taught often in parables..

Let’s look at one. for example. Mark 4 - The Parable of the sower

novel useful..

Feeds 5000

Walks on water

Healing with saliva


Rex Jung defines creativity as something novel, and something useful.

We are created to be creative…

For fun--humor is a great  indicator of creativity.

And for good.

Yes, people use all kinds of creative energy for ends that are not so useful…
there are some pretty creative thieves who will rob you blind.

I tell you, there are some creative folks in Alabama trying to keep folks out of the ballot box!  And that’s no joke.

Einstein who saw the development of the nuclear bomb, worried tremendously about our creative capacity being used for destruction...

But, what happens when we use our creative energy and capacity for Good.  Like Jesus did.

Planting a seed--God the original gardener, invites us to the paradise of eden when we sow seeds of justice and mercy

Slide Bike

Our creativity may be what is necessary to help resolve some of the most challenging situations we may be facing as individuals, communities, and in our trouble ridden world.  

Creativity can give us the courage to move past a sense of helplessness and hopelessness, to a spirit of boldness and willingness to face life’s most complex challenges and say, “we’re going to get to a do something good about this!”

Like Peggy making that quilt for Jackson Creative..
Susan making those parking signs for the tailgating party we had a few months back for boys and girls club.

Linda Foster was telling me this week about her work with COmmunity connections where she sees so many struggles..
...lots of people willing to help out…
and she’s thinking creatively about how these groups--service providers and client--can come together to try to have a greater impact by having a resource center or one stop shop, where needs can be more easily assessed and provided for.
it’s awesome!  

How is God calling you to use your creativity to make of this old world a brand new world?

Not sure?  

In a few moments we’re going to sing a fairly familiar song--Seek ye first.  
The words seek ye first the kingdom of God….
these were the words of one of the refugees I met last Sunday…
in so much uncertainty he is seeking God first.

and the song goes on to say “all these things shall be added unto you.”
So many times we think about things as materials or some kind of automatic answers to prayers…
But what if all these things--is entering into the zone of creativity…
where connections are made and we connect with our creator most intimately and all these things are revealed

Seek first the kingdom of God…

slow down for a bit...turn off the TV or computer and just be....
Slow down and see what happens when that shift happens and you move from the prefrontal cortex to a hypofrontal state of mind.. into the zone.

You may meet God and enter into a collaborative effort to do some amazing things..
even walk on water....

Let’s pray.
God, we marvel at your creative works. May we continue to discover our own capacities to be co-creators with you, for the glory of your kingdom. Amen.

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